10 August, 2009

Considering Mystery Schools

This has been prompted by a post made by Frater Yechidah concerning the apparent death of the esoteric lodge system. Now, I'm a fan of the lodge system, yes, there are problems sometimes, but there are problems with every form of education depending on how its done and who's being educated.

One of my thoughts on this, though, is about mystery schools being mystery schools. Classically, there were a lot of different "mystery" things out there; schools, religions, whatever. These were interesting things, for instance, we know that they had oaths of secrecy, usually with dire consequences for violating them (which were actually meant to be carried out, unlike in Masonry today). Another interesting thing is that despite this we know about them. But its what we know about them that is interesting to me. This is to say we know very little about them. Various people from the time have written about their rituals and such, but rarely with any precision about what those rituals meant to the initiated; they were invariably written from the lay person's point of view and, I would imagine, probably mistaken in their interpretation. Some we know almost nothing about, Pythagoras's school took their oaths of secrecy seriously, the one person to violate their oat, revealing a mathematical equation, was put to death.

Now, lets compare this to modern mystery schools. OTO, BOTA, GD, AS, SOL, the abbreviations go on forever. We know all about these schools, much of their material has been published, they have web sites, they advertise (and always have). More or less, just about anyone can join. Yes, I know, some have interviewing processes and don't let just anyone in (I've been in Temples were applications were denied after all), yet some allow everyone in. Some branches of these have simply become businesses, others are power plays for the insecure. Its really not how it was supposed to be, I think. For those who think the lodge system is dying, take into consideration that the various GD orders today have many, many times the members of the original GD and its various off shoots.

Now, there are some schools out there that are not like this, they seem to be few and far between. I'm aware of a very few of them (because, you know, they don't generally advertise and their members keep their vows of secrecy. An amazing concept, I know!). Now, I don't dislike any of the above orders in a general sort of way, I've even been a member of at least one of them. But I have to wonder at what point quantity was thought to make up for quality.

03 August, 2009

Spirital and Moral Growth

This has been an issue of my for some time now and, as a blog is a cheap form of therapy, here it is.

I have read the biographies of countless mystics it seems. For those of you who are really interested in the subject I highly recommend Fr. William Harmless's Mystics. Beyond this, of course, are the actual writings of these mystics. While there are a great many similarities, and a great many differences (I am very much not one of those "all mysticism is ultimately the same" sort of people, they might all be equally good (then again, they might not be), but they are not the same and frequently have quite different goals, but that's a different issue. One neurosis at a time.) one thing that seems to be extraordinarily common amongst them is an insistence on the moral growth of the practitioner as being both a requisite for spiritual growth and a result of spiritual growth.

This isn't my issue. I like this. I see this in my own life. It is good.

My issue is that it seems to be almost completely ignored by the vast majority of ceremonial magicians, who are supposedly attempting to gain the "Knowledge and Conversation," and you already know how I feel about that phrase, or whatever other metaphor for spiritual attainment you would like but remain complete and utter jerks throughout their entire life.

That's me being polite, but this is a family show.

Kabbalistically speaking one is attempting to unite Malkhut and Tiferet, the Shekhinah and the Bride Groom (Sophia and Christos for my Gnostic readers). The metaphor usually employed is quite insistent that it is the higher that will take control of, rectify, perfect, whatever, the lower.

Again, I'm good with that, even if the ancient metaphors are quite sexist.

Now, let's look at Tiferet. Tiferet means beauty. This is probably not an accident. If you are looking for Platonic philosophy you've probalby found it, beauty is a direct product of the Good. The Sefer Yetzirah gives Keter the title of Good, Tiferet lies directly below Keter on the Tree of Life. Tiferet is also called Compassion (rachamim), Truth (emet) and Justice (mishpat, which should not be confused with the judgment of Gevurah). These are the qualities of the fully actualized ruach. We should remember that the "higher self" of modern Hermeticism is the lower Genius, it is the unified ruach and nefesh, which is then to be brought under the sway of the neshamah. Someone who claims to have this level of consciousness/spiritual awareness/mojo, or even just the union of the two, the lower genius rather than the higher, should also be exhibiting these traits. They should be compassionate, they should be truthful, be just. That doesn't disqualify someone from being a jerk, of course. There are levels of attainment/awakening/enlightenment/whatever, and our starting points will all vary as well (compare with Confucius' idea of the natural moral self before education and becoming a student-scholar) but moral change and growth should be an observable phenomenon for those on spiritual paths.

Al-Ghazali probably said it better.

At any rate, my issue is, simply: where is this today? I know it is there somewhere, I know a few people, fellow magicians, who have noted the same thing, but they seem few and far between today. Is it the PostModernism? The excuse that morality is cultural and therefore totally subjective is just that, an excuse; no one lives their lives that way. Is it just laziness? I admit this is one of the advantages of the working lodge; if everyone is doing their job no one can be lazy and everyone keeps moving. Is it all out there but I'm just missing it?

I hope so.

01 August, 2009

A bit of routine

Solar Adoration – Thrice/twice daily – ideally sunrise, past noon and sunset.

Morning – Face South, Afternoon – Face East, Evening – Face North

Blessed art thou O holy Bride Groom, who has taught us to discern between Day and Night.

(Optional prayer. In kabbalistic tradition the morning prayer is associated with Chesed/Abraham, the afternoon prayer with Gevurah/Isaac and the evening prayer with Tiferet/ Jacob. Sometimes the afternoon and evening prayers would be combined during the afternoon service. A kabbalistic explanation of this is that only the morning and afternoon prayers, Chesed and Gevurah, are necessary as together the include Tiferet. Traditionally a fourth time for prayer and study, at midnight, was associated with Malkhut/Shekhinah.)

Invocation of the Spiritual Depths:
Me-Reshit, Le-Takhlit,
Me-Tov, Le-Ra’a,
Kashar Yod Hey Vav Hey Et Kol be-Tokh Shemo. Amen.

Ot ha-Moznayim.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NRSV):
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hidden from its heat.

Invocation of the Sarim.
In the name of the Name:
On my right hand, Mikhael.
On my left hand, Gavriel.
Before me, Auriel.
Behind me, Rafael
And above my head, and above my head the
Shekhiah of YHVH.

Close Ot ha-Moznayim.

Invocation of the Spiritual Depths:
Me-Reshit, Le-Takhlit,
Me-Tov, Le-Ra’a,
Kashar Yod Hey Vav Hey Et Kol be-Tokh Shemo. Amen.